Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Neoliberal Death Match, 2016?

There is no blue Wall Street. There is no red Wall Street. There's only the United States of Wall Street. And needless to say, it's not purple. It's a bilious shade of green.

With the media-political complex incessantly announcing  that the Democratic branch of the Money Party will anoint Hillary Clinton from a large field of potential  progressive candidates, the Republicans find themselves facing an inverted predicament. Out of a field of countless right wing extremists, none could possibly match Hillary in loyalty to High Finance, bloodthirsty Neocon credibility, and out-of-touchy-feeliness with the teeming masses. 

There had been the great white hope of Chris Christie, until the corruption did him in. (for now anyway.)

There was the second great white hope of Jeb Bush, until his left-of-Obama immigration stance did him in.

So who's left? Mitt Romney, that's who. It's looking to be 2012 all over again.

The trial balloons are already out there.

And the media-narrated contrast between Mitt and Hillary hasn't even been about their narrow policy differences -- it's been about their narrow wealth differences. Who owns the most? How these two politicians amassed their immense personal fortunes is sure to inspire a country full of struggling, disaffected voters. If the objective is the lowest turnout in a presidential election in history, then a Clinton-Romney contest is tailor-made for Oligarchia.

Before you shrug or vomit, look at the bright side. A choice between Hillary and Mitt would be an embarrassing and long-overdue admission that our democracy is no more. No longer could we be forced to pretend to have the choice of the lesser evil.  We'd be saddled with either Lord Doofus Evil or Lady Calculating Evil.

They say that money is speech in this post-Citizens United world. But let's get real: money is political food, with the end product being speech. And the candidates and the pseudo-candidates and the advertisers and the operatives are already sucking in the dollars as fast as they can, for swift transformation into ripe platitudes for hurling at a stunned electorate.

Just think for a minute of a Hillary-Mitt nag race. It would make the Barack-Mitt trot-a-thon of moral geldings look like the Kentucky Derby. Instead of pitting Makers against Takers, vulture capitalist against phony populist, the 2016 presidential debates would include such hot-button issues as which candidate has the better tax shelters, estate planning teams, the biggest homes, the fattest bank accounts, the most gaffe-free days in a row, and the best-preserved cognitive ability for staying on narrow-minded script. 

So do not give up hope. There is a very good chance that these two creatures of the neoliberal Reagan revolution will ultimately cancel each other out:

 Mitt: "Ann drives only a couple of Cadillacs."

Hillary: "We were dead broke when we left the White House. We had houses to buy and an Ivy League education to pay for. I hadn't even cashed my $14 million book advance yet.

"I made my millions the old-fashioned way.... in  private equity."

Hillary: "I made my millions the new-fashioned way.... giving speeches to people like you in private equity."

 Mitt: "I give millions of dollars every year to charity -- my own church.

Hillary: "I give millions of dollars every year to charity -- the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Mitt: "I party with the Kochs at fund-raisers."

Hillary: "I party with the Kochs at fund-raisers." 

Mitt: "John McCain endorsed me in 2012."

Hillary: "So? I was an honored guest at John McCain's annual Neocon forum in Sedona in 2014, and you weren't!"

Mitt: "My favorite campaign neocon war adviser was Robert Kagan."

Hillary: "Isn't that too bad -- I already got dibs on him for 2016."

Mitt: "When I ran Bain, we saved the Job Creators by buying up American factories, milking them of assets, and outsourcing labor to Mexico."

Hillary: "So? Who do you think signed the legislation that allowed you to outsource your precious jobs to Mexico?"

(Tune in, tune out, and then hit the streets.)


stranger in a strange land said...

A new broadcast gimmick was added to the last season of "Top Chef" (on Bravo, home to gems like "The Real Housewives of ____"). It was a live audience polling feature: do you think Jenny is a terrible person? 65% Yes 35% No. Et cetera.

Looked a lot like a thermometer for just how easily and reliably voters are corralled, with a quick editing trick or two, into a comfortable narrative about characters on the teevee. Hillary will appear very different from Mitt to the people who want to play the centrifugal bumble-puppy election game.

I’m watching "Big Brother" again this summer on CBS, though it’s not so much Orwell as it is Huxley.

James F Traynor said...

I think the most encouraging thing about all this is that people are finally beginning to get wise to what a farce it is. But what worries me is a Republican Party anointed with the triple tiered crown of Executive, Legislative and Judicial powers. But would the Democratic Party be any different? Only to a degree ( the degree at which both are boiling us), not as to substance, is the inescapable answer. Whether people get wise or not, we are well and truly done. The street is the only option left us.

Isaiah Earhart said...

Oh my, 'Oligarchia,' may I use that?

Toooo funny for words, this piece is.

It makes you wonder how they will drag (scare the hell out of) a beaten up and deeply offended progressive base to the polls for whatever Democrat the Plutocrats decide voters can stomach.

Will we get to choose between a total war in Syria and a total war in Africa versus a total war in Syria and and covert wars in Africa?

Will they threaten us with mandatory chastity belts for women?

Will they use Ginsburg again? That was really convincing for people who didn't listen to her say explicitly she wasn't going to retire.

I can't wait for the fear train come rumbling down the tracks. it will be like a pot luck for which dish served will taste the least repulsive.

I want my fear to be marketed to me personally: I must get a Facebook page, my dog must wear Google Glasses, and public teachers are replaced by the History Channel.

(Tune in, tune out, and then hit the streets.) ~ Karen Garcia

That pretty much says it all.

Karen- thank you again.

Pearl said...

There is another option left to us even before hitting the streets where we will be maced, wrestled to the ground, jailed, sprayed with chemicals, ad infinitum. Time. It is on our side because before anything else survival will become foremost shortly. The fallout from our present turmoil is already touching our 1%ers, our corporate power houses and they are not prepared for what is to come. That gives us a door of opportunity but meanwhile we have to pound the truth away as a guidepost. Hopefully by that time citizens will be strapping on their marching boots. I hope this is reality and not some science fiction dream I have had, but I feel it in my bones. And should more Republicans inhabit Congress shortly, their misactions should help turn the tide.
Nothing is hopeless and in a way it is out of our hands so we must be prepared, or rather those coming up in the ranks behind us should be. Mother nature will also cooperate.

stranger in a strange land said...

Waiting in time for Oligarchia to reap the whirlwind of societal and ecological fallout seems like a bad idea.

Mother nature's contribution -- desertification of arable land, imperiled groundwater aquifers, increasingly catastrophic weather -- looks like a nightmare.

Should we eagerly anticipate a near-future when survival above anything else (no arts, no letters, no society) is the foremost concern? That, as Zee and Thomas Hobbes have previously suggested, is not something any of us would prefer to experience.

We need an escape route and an actionable plan. Here's a link to one such plan:


Yeah, more people are wising-up to the duopoly farce. And a little dose of fallout would certainly shake a few more from their complacency. But wouldn't it be great if we could change course before a full-on fiery crash?

Zee said...


An exciting suggestion!

And if that's how James Madison thought it should be, that's (usually) good enough for me.

James F Traynor said...


Sounds interesting. Anything to avoid the 'crash' as you put it. The Man is preparing for it, but has no idea of the horror it could and probably would be.

Pearl said...

I did not mean to indicate that we are to wait for the ultimate destruction facing us, but to wait for the door of opportunity when the ruling powers are weakening seeing the possibility of not surviving and that is the time to start to march and take over. Timing is essential and also gives us time to prepare for change. Only when the people in charge seeing calamity heading their way for them along with the rest of us will become unable to operate and offer us the time to strike. This was done in the past with hopeless wars until people ended them and moved toward change which lasted for awhile. Support for war as solutions are no longer being tolerated. We need a different kind of war in which the population will be frightened into organizing for change. I know this is all theoretical and possibly wishful thinking but I don't think people will organize to act until they see a tornado approaching.
Would like to see more about possibilities on the horizon from others.

Denis Neville said...

Financialized capitalism makes money by not investing into new enterprises, bigger and better factories, etc., but by reinvesting to make more and bigger profits from bigger profits without actually building anything. It isn’t just junk economics. It is theft and kleptocracy.

The rebirth of Rome … plutocrats' paradises … lavish palatial grand estates and mansions are back:


These are the same shock doctrine “folks” who whine about the “takers” in Detroit - who can't get a drink, can’t cook, can't wash or clean because of water shut-offs – that can’t pay their water bills. They don’t live in toxic neighborhoods poisoned by pollution, yet whine about environmental regulations.

“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.” ― Wendell Berry

America’s workers are justified in seeing their treatment in terms of class warfare:


This is all we need to know about how and by whom we are governed: the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); the continuing hollowing out of job opportunities; laid-off workers; the marginally employed; rising temporary employment; the just-getting-by; the broke and bankrupt; lengthening lines at quickly depleted food banks; and increasing rates of suicide and mortality.

The pitchforks are coming. Mass movements do not start until the prevailing order is discredited.

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” - Frederick Douglass

Eric Hoffer warns:

“When we renounce the self and become part of a compact whole [a mass movement], we do not only renounce personal advantage but are also rid of personal responsibility. There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgment. When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom – freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse. Herein undoubtedly lies part of the attractiveness of a mass movement.” – Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.

James F Traynor said...

Hoffer was right.

James F Traynor said...

@Denis Neville

I read that article about the Sparta, Tenn. plant. My reading of their reactions didn't give me a feeling that they sensed it was class warfare. I don't think they have any idea what happened, or why. Not really. To realize it would betray everything they believe in. Sad.

James F Traynor said...

That Sparta thing. The Man who came with a guy who was packing. That says it all. You see the reason the guard was packing is that the Man knew what he was doing and if anybody did that to him, or his, they'd better be packing.

The thing is the prey didn't see it, really see it. Sheep to the slaughter. And they still don't see it. After they've been skinned out, hung and quartered, the poor fucks still don't see it.

For some reason this really bothers me.
I know one thing, I'm not one of them.
And I can't help thinking that, in a way, they got what they deserved. But I still feel sorry for them.

Zee said...

I did not experience the Great Depression, but by all accounts things were a good bit worse then than they are now. And yet, as nearly as I can tell, civil unrest never reached anything approaching a serious level during those years of despair.

Moreover, Americans were made of rather sterner stuff then than they are today.

So I don't foresee any mass movements threatening the regime any time soon, unless it's a mass movement of ever-so-forceful hashtags and ferocious tweets, which modern Americans seem to do very well, today.

And personally, given the prowess of today's military, and the militarization of today's police, I don't think that I would care to live to see the kind of mass movement that some seem to be hoping for, or expecting.

Denis Neville said...

For those who don't foresee any mass movements any time soon, consider the views of Robert David Steele, Earth Intelligence Network, who is a former Marine, CIA case officer, and co-founder of the US Marine Corps Intelligence.

Steele recently at the LibtechNYC conference:


Steele sees "five major overlapping threats on the immediate horizon. They are all related: the collapse of complex societies, the acceleration of the Earth's demise with changes that used to take 10,000 years now taking three or less, predatory or shock capitalism and financial crime out of the City of London and Wall Street, and political corruption at scale, to include the west supporting 42 of 44 dictators. We are close to multiple mass catastrophes."

According to Steele, “All the major preconditions for revolution are now present in the US and most western countries. The number of active pre-conditions is quite stunning, from elite isolation to concentrated wealth to inadequate socialization and education, to concentrated land holdings to loss of authority to repression of new technologies especially in relation to energy, to the atrophy of the public sector and spread of corruption, to media dishonesty, to mass unemployment of young men and on and on and on."

Why isn't it happening yet?

"Preconditions are not the same as precipitants. We are waiting for our Tunisian fruit seller. The public will endure great repression, especially when most media outlets and schools are actively aiding the repressive meme of ‘you are helpless, this is the order of things.’ When we have a scandal so powerful that it cannot be ignored by the average Briton or American, we will have a revolution that overturns the corrupt political systems in both countries, and perhaps puts many banks out of business. Vaclav Havel calls this 'The Power of the Powerless.' One spark, one massive fire."

"To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We're there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting."

The one percent are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be.

Truth rather than violence is the currency of power.

James F Traynor said...

Zee, first of all there were a lot of incidents, throughout the country but a lid was kept on. Second, in asymmetric war, the cardinal rule is to never confront the enemy head on, but nibble around the edges. Michael Collins in Ireland successfully engaged the British Empire.
General strikes are the best weapon but would be harder to organize now but still very effective. The Man is waiting for confrontation, even eager for it. Those armored vehicles and sniper rifles are not for use against terrorists but against us. We saw the beginnings of it in the reaction to OWS.
The Man was encouraged by the failure of OWS and by what has happened economically in Southern Europe. This is global. The International 1% has gotten away with murder and, encouraged by the Man, they want it all. As Bloomberg said, he wasn't afraid he had his army.

Zee said...


I'm away from home without access to my usual resources, and I realize that Wikipedia is hardly the ultimate source of truth. And I know that it's easy to anonymously smear otherwise credible sources on the web.

Still, Robert David Steele seems a bit on the strange side.



Denis Neville said...

@ Zee -

I was not familiar with Steele’s work until just recently. So I too had googled “Robert David Steele” to learn more about him after seeing multiple references to his name and works, not to mention all the book reviews he has done on Amazon. I thought his radically different perspective and some of his excellent insights and analyses were spot on and ran directly counter to today’s conventional wisdom. I am skeptical of Steele’s pie-in-the-sky open source idea. It sounds radically rational yet very far-fetched in our current inverted totalitarian society.

I had read that Wikipedia blurb and also thought that it made him “a bit on the strange side.” But as you say Wikipedia is hardly the ultimate source of truth. A writer’s background is a very important factor when it comes to judging his work, but certainly not sufficient to disregard what he says as false or invalid.

In a similar vein, I can also listen to Senator Aqua Buddha (Rand Paul) and his dad, Crazy Uncle Liberty (Ron Paul), and find myself nodding in agreement with some of the worthy things they have to say. But a lot of what they say about government and history is also totally bat shit crazy.

So it is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Zee said...